Proposed Allwood Road Construction


In 2018, Passaic County received a $2,663,400 grant for a project aimed at safety improvements and road diets along Allwood Road (CR 602) and Clifton Avenue (SR 161) in the City of Clifton through the NJTPA’s FY 2017-2018 Local Safety Program (LSP). The project includes a road diet—a reduction in the number of travel lanes—on Allwood Road from Hepburn Road to Passaic Avenue, and on Clifton Road from Allwood Road to Van Houten Avenue. For more on NJTPA please read our previous article HERE.

What Is A Road Diet? A Road Diet, or roadway reconfiguration, can improve safety, calm traffic, provide better mobility and access for all road users, and enhance overall quality of life, typically by converting an existing four-lane undivided roadway to a three-lane roadway consisting of two through lanes and a center two-way left-turn lane. The proposed Allwood Road reconfiguration appears to be one through lane and one bike lane in each direction.

Why a road diet works:

o Slows speeds down, eliminates the “speedway effect”

o Shifts traffic away from the curb (pedestrians, bikes, fixed objects)

o Easier left turns onto the road

o Easier (protected) left turns off of the road

o Shifts traffic away from centerline – head on or sideswipe

o Provides a protected lane for bicyclists

o Easier for a pedestrian to cross 2 lanes vs 4, and slower speeds

Studies indicate a 19 to 47 percent reduction in overall crashes when a Road Diet is installed on a previously four-lane undivided facility.

The safety issues that are to be addressed along Allwood Road fall into two categories.

1. Allwood Road/Bloomfield Avenue Roundabout. The roundabout was originally constructed as a multi-lane roundabout due to the multiple lane approaches on Allwood Road and Bloomfield Avenue. There are two lanes in the roundabout and two lanes on all four legs into (and out of) the roundabout. This has caused confusion with the public and a high number of PDO crashes (Property Damage Only), with most of the crashes occurring as vehicle sideswiping.

Passaic County believes that converting the roundabout to a single-lane roundabout would address the safety deficiencies by reducing the confusion caused by signing and multiple lanes. A Road Safety Audit from 2015 (which was the basis for the application to NJTPA) shows that the Bloomfield Avenue intersection had the most accidents of any intersection in Passaic County, in part due to the heavy volume of traffic coming from Route 3 and the commercial properties and big box stores in the area.

City Manager Dominick Villano spoke to the Clifton Times and explained that the plan is to create another bypass lane on Bloomfield Avenue that will allow people to go right on Allwood Road without entering the roundabout. There are currently two bypass lanes from Allwood Road that allow drivers to avoid going into the roundabout by turning directly onto Bloomfield Avenue. Additionally, shifting from two lanes to one in the roundabout, as indicated in the plans, will widen the road in the circle, reducing the risk of accidents.

2. Allwood Road Four-Lane Section between Hepburn Road and Passaic Avenue. City Manager Dominick Villano spoke to us about the safety concerns with the existing four lane section of Allwood Road between Hepburn Road and Passaic Avenue. The main issue here is that a four lane road leads to excessive speeds and dangerous left hand turns as drivers have to cross multiple lanes of traffic, often without good visibility. The Passaic County plan is to reduce Allwood Road from two lanes in either direction to one lane and a bike lane. Villano indicates that he believes a turning lane would be very helpful if included.

Passaic Avenue Intersection: A study was done that determined that the intersection at Passaic Avenue and Allwood Road is too narrow and doesn’t allow for stacking so that traffic can move easily. There are also a high percentage of left turn crashes. The recommendation of a road diet will address the problem of left turns by slowing speeds down and protecting cars turning left onto and off the roads.

Book Court: Book Court has a high number of left turn crashes as there is no dedicated left-turn lane. Traffic from the shopping mall means that there is a lot of traffic at this intersection.

Dwasline Road: Dwasline Road is on a hill and this causes issues with visibility. As it is close to the entrance to Trader Joe’s, this intersection has a lot of traffic and left turn crashes.

Clifton Concerns. While not included in the current plans for Allwood Road, City Manager Villano gave us his input on two other intersections on Allwood Road that have proved to be problematic. He reminded the Clifton Times that this is a County road and a County project, so while he is sharing his concerns with them, the ultimate decisions will be made by Passaic County. We reached out to Commissioner Bartlett and County Engineer Jonathan Pera and will update this story if we receive any additional information.

Ridgefield Terrace. When you exit Ridgefield Terrace to make a left turn, you have to cross three lanes of traffic. This leads to left turn collisions. Villano believes that to alleviate these issues, that intersection should be right in/right out only. If adopted, vehicles would only be able to make a right turn onto Allwood Road, heading towards Clifton Avenue.

Mount Prospect has been a very dangerous intersection because of the island between the two travel lanes. Drivers wanting to make a left turn from Allwood onto Mount Prospect have to drive between the islands (and their beautiful cherry trees) and run the risk of being hit from the rear or the front. There are many accidents that happen there and Villano believes that creating a dedicated turning lane would reduce left turn accidents.

Villano also mentioned that currently there is no overnight parking allowed on Allwood Road which results in challenges for local residents. He hopes that any reconfiguration of Allwood Road will result in additional parking for residents.

We spoke to Villano about the proposed bike lane and asked if it is part of the Bike Passaic County study, which is intended to create a county-wide bicycle master plan that provides a framework to improve and encourage bicycling throughout the county. He said that Clifton’s main concern is that if a bike lane is added, we will need to look into ways to keep cyclists safe.

Allwood Road is a County road so we reached out to Passaic County Commissioner John Bartlett and County Engineer Jonathan Pera with questions on the proposed projects and the expected timeline for construction but have not heard back. We will update this article with any additional information they provide.

As summer approaches, the Clifton Times will continue to keep you updated on the status of these construction projects and how they affect Cliftonites.

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